The Real Deal New York

Famed Angel House could finally meet its end

Brooklyn property scheduled to hit foreclosure auction block March 29

February 27, 2012 12:00PM
By Katherine Clarke

From left: Cynthia and Arthur Wood and the Broken Angel home in Clinton Hill (right)

Clinton Hill’s most famous private home, the Broken Angel house at 4 Downing Street, has been scheduled to hit the foreclosure auction block March 29,  according to data from PropertyShark.com.

The 10,400-square-foot property will be auctioned off with a lien of $2.7 million along with an adjacent 1,996-square-foot lot at 8 Downing Street, after lender Madison Realty Capital filed to foreclose on the building in 2008.

The home, which was created and has been owned by local Brooklyn artist Arthur Wood since 1972, is somewhat of a neighborhood institution, having been featured prominently as a backdrop in the film “Dave Chappelle’s Block Party.” It recovered from a devastating fire in 2006, which damaged some of its most iconic architectural features, including its 50-foot vertical addition made of glass, steel and various objects found by the creators.

Wood joined forces with local developer Andersen Shahn following the fire to obtain high-interest financing to save Broken Angel from being completely razed — the Department of Buildings required Wood to complete various changes to the property so it could remain livable despite the damage the fire had caused.

The artist planned to recoup the funds by transforming the building, which he originally purchased for $2 million, into a small condominium property. In 2007, the developer had approval to build five stories of condos, but was also seeking a variance to build condos in a second 6,500-square-foot building next door. At minimum, the project would have had 15 units, and it would have included some community and museum space.

The condo project, which never got off the ground as the result of the recession, turned into a nightmare for Wood, whose wife was diagnosed with cancer around the same time; Wood’s wife Cynthia passed away in 2010.

A note was posted outside the home after Cynthia’s death, which gave the history of the Broken Angel name.

It read: “The idea for the building Broken Angel was born from a romantic stroll the couple took through Staten Island. Arthur and Cynthia found a figurine of an angel lying broken and discarded in the gutter. He took it home with them and rebuilt it for her, reconfiguring it so that it was ‘better than the original.’ A little while after that when they found the building that would become their home and life’s work they were reminded of that angel and incorporated that same creativity into rebuilding the structure. They named it ‘Broken Angel’ and hoped to resurrect it with as much success.”

The bank ultimately filed to foreclose on the property two years ago after the plans failed to materialize, and Wood placed the property on the market for $4 million. It did not attract any offers, according to news reports.

“I was never interested in putting it up for sale, but this is the only way we can bail out of the problems we have right now,” Wood told the Daily News in 2009.

It was not immediately clear what will become of the iconic Brooklyn building if Madison Realty takes control. A representative for the company was not immediately available for comment.

Neither Wood nor Andersen was immediately reachable.

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